I’m pretty much the queen of food safety. Temperature control, food not properly cleaned, sanitized services, everything–> I’m pretty much a crazy germaphobe. When you’re packing food to go and don’t have access to refrigeration it’s super important to plan accordingly. Since it’s finallyyyyy getting warm out and feeling like spring temps I thought it would be good to discuss some healthy picnic, tailgate, or lunch on the road meal planning.
Food Safety Tips
1) If you’re planning a tailgate and cooking food onsite or reheating food, it’s important to have a food thermometer. Always cook everything to temperature. See below and read more on foodsafety.gov
2) When going the picnic route (or lunch to go), cold food is the best plan if you won’t have access to any reheating sources. Cold food should be held at 40 degrees Fahrenheit (or lower). Use ice packs and insulated lunch boxes/coolers to help keep food cold.
3) Always hold foods at the proper temperatures. Don’t leave food sitting out too long without proper temperature control. This is one of the main causes of foodborne illness, so remember to put leftovers away and store perishable items appropriately. An insulated thermos can both keep food warm and cold- great for hot soups or a cold salad.
4) On very hot days nothing should sit out for more than an hour, this goes for picnic, tailgate, everything.
5) Avoid cross contamination. Don’t put any ready to eat or cooked food on a surface where raw food was stored. This is common sense.
6) Never let raw meat, poultry, eggs, cooked food or cut fresh fruits or vegetables sit out for more than two hours before putting them in the refrigerator or freezer.
7) Wash your hands! Warm water and soap are more effective than hand sanitizer.
8) Clean all surfaces with antibacterial spray or wipes prior to and after using.
Healthy Snacks ideas for your picnic or tailgate:
1. Fresh fruit or veggies. Wash and cut, store in airtight container. Bring hummus, guacamole, salsa, or a yogurt based dip.
2. Nut butter on a rice cake makes an easy and simple snack, add chocolate chips for dessert!
3. For a tailgate, a valuable food gadget is the crockpot. Cook chicken in a homemade sauce and shred. Check out my Blueberry BBQ Sauce recipe! http://dietitianjess.weebly.com/1/archives/02-2014/1.html
4. Another great tailgate meal component is grilled veggies: pepper, zucchini, mushrooms, etc.
5. Cold green salads, be creative, add fruit, veggies, nuts, seeds, and even grains
6. Cold grain based salads…. Here are two of my favorites:
*Pick your grain: couscous, orzo, pasta, quinoa, then add cucumbers, almonds, cranberries, and for the dressing mix lemon juice, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
**Pick you grain, add olive oil with basil and garlic powder (or use Italian dressing), add mozzarella, tomato, onion, cucumber.
7. One great recipe that can be eaten hot or cold is my black bean sweet potato burgers. They are vegan, gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian, nut free, and delicious! Recipe will be posted tomorrow.
8. Trail mixes are a go to! Use different nuts, dried fruit, and sprinkle in a little dark chocolate
9. For desserts the possibilities are endless just be mindful of those with diet restrictions such as dairy free, nut free, vegan, gluten free, etc.
10. Don’t forget to hydrate! Water is your best choice, add some herbs or fresh fruit to water to give it an extra kick of flavor
Hopefully this information gives you some good food ideas and the right information to make your outing a success. It’s never a fun experience when someone gets food poisoning, so play it safe and think ahead. Enjoy your tailgate, picnic, or lunch!